Thursday, August 18, 2011

Philadelphia Day 4: A Day of Oddities and Such

Art work in the Mutter Museum gift shop

Day four of our Philadelphia adventure was a day for sleeping in...clear till 8 am. Since we took the luxury of sleeping in, we decided to forgo a giant breakfast and have the continental breakfast at the Alexander Inn. The continental breakfast consisted of various cereals, dry bagels, toaster waffles, English muffins, fruit, yogurt, and hard boiled eggs. I smothered the bagel in cream cheese to make it decent. Danny added peanut butter and artificial syrup to his toaster waffles.  The coffee was delicious.

Our next destination was the Mutter Museum. Mutter Museum is located in the Philadelphia College of Physicians, which was founded in 1787. It is the oldest private medical society in the U.S. and the birthplace of American medicine.

Mutter Museum

The Mutter Museum does not allow photography, which bummed me out. The museum is filled with medical oddities, anatomical specimens, wax models, and antique medical equipment. I was thrilled when the ticket seller only charged me for the youth price. He charged Danny the adult price, which I may have rubbed in a little.

I soon became thrilled with all the weird and mysterious medical oddities. Along with medical oddities, the Mutter Museum is home to anatomical pieces of history. A piece of tissue from John Wilkes Booth's vertebrae is in a jar. If that doesn't thrill you, a section of  Charles J.Guiteau's brain (President Garfield's assassin) is on display at the Mutter Museum. Other thrilling exhibits include the Soap Lady (a sort of self mummification medical weirdness), various fetal anomalies, a 9 foot long human colon that contained 40 pounds of fecal matter (too far?), and the rib cage of a woman who wore a corset a little too often.

If you like weird sciencey things and are not easily grossed out by colons and such, then the Mutter Museum is for you.

 Next we were off to the Franklin Institute. When entering the Franklin Institute you are immediately greeted by a giant memorial to Benjamin Franklin.

The Franklin Institute
Me and Benny F.

The statue is ginormous. The walls surrounding the statue have rotating Franklin quotes illuminated on them. It's pretty inspiring stuff. This man said ...and did some amazing things for our country.

Early to bed and early to rise...
makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.

Diligence is the mother of good luck -Benjamin Franklin

An oddity that occurred during day 4 of our Philly exploration, was that we did not explore more of the Franklin Institute. Beyond the giant statue tourists can pay to see the rest of the Institute. There was a massive mummy exhibit, a gigantic heart that you could climb in, and some sort of electricity fun room. It's a kid friendly place, which I am usually all about, but I feel like I've been to the Franklin Institute a million times. The Exploritorium, The California Academy of Science, and The Field Museum in Chicago all have the same sort of feeling and I'm over it. You know the old saying.....Once you've seen one mummy, you've seen 'em all.

After some Frankspiration, we walked....and walked and walked some more to the Belgian Cafe.  

Belgian Cafe

The Belgian Cafe seemed pretty authentic in it's belgianicity...but I'm not always a good judge of authenticity. The air conditioning was on full blast and Neil Young was playing on the radio... which I enjoyed. There were murals of half naked ladies on the walls which seems very European...  Danny was too busy looking at the extensive beer list to notice the European art. A direct quote from Danny is, "The Belgian Cafe has hella beers." They also had pommes frites served with this amazing homemade mayonnaise sauce. I am a sucker for a good french fry....and these pommes frites had me wrapped around their thin greasy little fingers. 

I have a super nerdy confession to make. When I plan on blogging about something, I take notes during my experience. I know...I know. So I asked Danny how he liked his beer. Mocking my note taking he replied, "Let the record show the beer was good."

Belgian goodness

We then scampered off to the creepy yet delightful Eastern State Penitentiary. Eastern State Penitentiary is startlingly beautiful. From the outside it appears like a castle on the edge of a modern city.

Eastern State Penitentiary

I'm not a huge fan of audio tours, but the Eastern State Penitentiary audio tour is legit. The voice coming across the archaic headphones is Steve Buscemi' know the guy from Fargo.  Before starting the tour, I recommend taking some pictures by the prison wall looking like an inmate.

Can't cage this bird

Locked up for my sick karate moves

It's Big Dan to you.

Fear the Lehrs

The Eastern State Penitentiary opened it's gates in 1829. It was the first penitentiary of its kind in America. Before penitentiaries, jails had problems with overcrowding and less than humane conditions. People who committed more serious crimes faced public punishments like this:

Apparently being whipped in public wasn't effective against serious crime, so a group of philosophers and such (Benny Franklin being one of them) got together and planned the worlds first penitentiary...a place for penitence. The cell blocks were spread like spokes of a wheel from the central guard station. Theoretically if a guard were standing in the middle, he could see all blocks at the same time.

The inmates rarely left their cells. During the infrequent trips outside their cells, the inmates wore masks to keep them from communicating with anyone they may come in contact with.

The cells have individual feed doors and exercise yards to enhance the solitary confinement.

Fuzzy cell block.

Sky light...termed "God's Eye" 

Exercise yard.

It turns out that years of solitude don't always correct a criminal's behavior. In fact, solitary confinement usually made them go a little crazy. Lucky for them, having a prison based on this idea was extremely expensive. Since America's population and criminal activity was growing, Eastern State Penitentiary had to abandon this idea. Soon the cell blocks became two and three stories tall, most did not have individual exercise yards, and each cell had two prisoners in it.

The prison's architect had cathedrialish taste.

My cell mate

Planning my escape

Eastern State Penitentiary officially closed its doors in 1970. When touring the prison it will definitely make you think twice about correctional methods both current and past. It will also make you think about ghosts (some claim they are there) and Al Capone (one of Eastern State's most famous prisoners).

Next it was off to Citizen's Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies, for an A's vs. Phillies game. A Day of Oddities would have been the perfect name if our pitiful Athletics would of won, however the A's couldn't pull through for my artistic sake. Citizen's Bank Park is new, shiny, and beautiful...everything that the Coliseum is not.

Phillie Phanatic. 

Let's go Oakland.

The real story lies not in the Athletics' typical 1-0 loss, but in America's stupid obsession with frozen yogurt. I almost wrote a blog solely dedicated to this new frozen yogurt trend. It seems everyone is obsessed with these Chilaberries and Yogafina places where you can put various toppings on frozen yogurt. I ask of America, what is wrong with ice cream... good old fashioned, heavy on the cream, ice cream? Nothing. In fact it is far superior to any frozen yogurt. Please don't try to argue that frozen yogurt is healthier for you. You can take the fat out of the frozen yogurt, but you cant hide the bucket fulls of sugar. Anyway, enough of my "Fro Yo" rant....

Danny said he wanted to try some frozen yogurt at the game. I agreed only because we were on vacation together and I was trying to be positive. Maybe this frozen yogurt would blow my mind (or give me brain freeze).

We got in the very long line and waited. Despite hating long lines, I thought it might be a good sign. Then something strange happened. The frozen yogurt lady came up to us and told us that we were the end of the line. It was the 7th inning. She said you have to tell the people behind you that's no one past you gets yogurt. Danny and I were perplexed, but everyone kept saying the yogurt was worth it.

So here we had the uneasy task of telling Phillie fans that that we, Athletic fans, were the last people to get yogurt. Of course droves of people got in line after that. Each time Danny would tell them the story and they wouldn't believe him. I would then confirm his story. Sometimes they would listen and sometimes they would go ask the frozen yogurt lady only to march off in a fit of frozen yogurt rage.

Then a man and his girlfriend came up behind us who also initially did not believe us. The man with the heavy Jersey accent, believed us after someone else confirmed our story. He then told us, "Oh, we will have frozen yogurt! I can talk my way into any club in the city. We will get it." I thought to myself, "What do night clubs and frozen yogurt have to do with one another?" He went and spoke with the frozen yogurt lady and came back with a grin on his face. He said he told her his girlfriend was pregnant and this was the only thing she wanted. She did not look pregnant in the least. I hope that's not how he gets into, "Any club in the city." So the Jersey guy took over the job of sending people away...which we were thankful for.

When we got to the front of the line the frozen yogurt lady gave the four of us extra toppings for our troubles. When she handed the "pregnant" lady her yogurt, she used her oh-you-are-pregnant-so-you-should-be-treated-like-a-princess voice and said, "Is there anything else I can get for you sweet heart?" Laughing on the inside. I took a bite of my frozen yogurt and proclaimed that there was nothing special about this frozen yogurt. In fact, it may have been the worst frozen yogurt I have ever had. I guess the specialness comes from the experience.


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